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4th Jul 2022

EU competition probe targets Sky and Hollywood

  • The EU executive filed a formal statement of objections on Thursday (Photo: Express Monorail)

The European Commission has fired a shot across the bows of some of the world’s biggest media houses, including Rupert Murdoch’s BskyB, accusing them of breaking EU competition rules.

The EU executive filed a formal statement of objections to Sky UK and six major US film studios: Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros, on Thursday (23 July).

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“Licensing agreements between the major film studios and Sky UK do not allow consumers in other EU countries to access Sky's UK and Irish pay-TV services, via satellite or online,” said EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Thursday. “We believe that this may be in breach of EU competition rules,” she added.

The commission has so far steered clear of revising its collective copyright legislation that could lead to BSkyB and other digital TV giants being forced to make their programmes available to viewers across the EU.

"European citizens who have moved to another member state should be able to continue to watch their favourite programmes," said Vestager.

Selling rights on a pan-European rather than a country-by-country basis would reduce their value and could lead to rights-holders requiring their TV partners to include more copyrighted elements in broadcasts.

In October 2011, the European Court of Justice ruled that citizens were allowed to find better deals for TV sports subscriptions by buying set-top box decoder cards from foreign broadcasters.

The case came after Karen Murphy, a UK pub owner, bought a Greek decoder card and subscription to Greek cable provider Nova, to slash her bills for showing English Premier League matches.

Sky UK and the film studios will now be required to defend themselves to the Commission, which could then launch formal anti-trust proceedings against them, action which carries a potential fine of 10 percent of turnover.

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